Author Archive

Reading Kiese Laymon’s Heavy: An American Memoir

When I read Laymon’s recent memoir, I had a visceral reaction. It reminded me why I started writing. It made me wonder if my writing reaches my peoples and keeps us revising and growing in our stories. If writing protects us from the silence of memories lost.

Inherited Trauma in We Cast a Shadow

What the narrator of Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel doesn’t fully comprehend is that he is worried about his son inheriting trauma from him. Inheriting something that cannot be wiped away.

The Burning Home in Purple Hibiscus

Living under a dictatorship means watching your homeland, your home, catch fire. You can leave and hope that all your loved ones make it out too, or you can stay and fight, hoping you don’t die from the burns—under a dictatorship, no one gets away.

Reading and Writing to a Home

I read Bryan Washington’s debut short story collection as I helped my family pack up my childhood home in Miami. I had moved to New Orleans over eight years before—close enough to drive back down, but still three states and a world away.

The Dissolution of Absolutes en La Frontera

Gabino Iglesias’s recent novel revolves around multiple characters journeying through la frontera, the border between the United States/Mexico. In each of the characters’ stories, however, there are multiple journeys being made, multiple borders being crossed, and as their stories progress, what they're striving for is less and less clear.

Water in The Veins of the Ocean

In Patricia Engel’s 2016 novel, a family, having been exiled from Cartagena, Colombia to the United States, is separated from their country by a vast gulf. But the ocean doesn’t just act as a barrier—it is also the scene of the traumatic event that the protagonist’s life revolves around.

The Sound of Trauma

Juan Gabriel Vásquez’s third novel is a story about how trauma flashes, like lightning, but then crashes and reverberates throughout one’s life more slowly, like thunder.

Loss and Exile in Héctor Abad’s Oblivion

Like all exile stories, for Héctor Abad to survive, he has to avenge the tragedy of loss by hanging on to the good, even when it returns him to sadness.

The Land of Ghosts and Corpses

Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, in his 1992 memoir, describes himself and other exiles as corpses, or ghosts.

Fearing Exile, Like My Family Before Me

Three years ago, I was thrown out of a Trump rally. A friend got circled by police officers, stared at by supporters. He protested. I jumped in. As the police officers wrangled me, Trump said, I can’t believe in Louisiana it takes this long.”